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The Modernisation of the Nursing Workforce. Valuing the healthcare assistant.

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Title: The Modernisation of the Nursing Workforce. Valuing the healthcare assistant.

Authors: Ian Kessler, Paul Heron, Sue Dopson

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2012

Reviewer: Joanne Thompson, critical care unit manager, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

What was it like?

This is a detailed examination of the role of healthcare support workers in acute hospital settings. It identifies that despite little evidence to indicate that healthcare assistants (HCAs) are viewed as a strategic workforce, this role is likely to assume increasing importance as the NHS seeks to cope with more intense pressures.


What were the highlights? 

The authors draw upon the results of a large multi-method research study undertaken in four geographically diverse hospital Trusts in England. The use of case studies and semi-structured questioning allows valuable insight into the role in different areas of the country.

Strengths & weaknesses?

The research looks in detail at relationships between HCAs & nurses, and HCAs & patients, as well as identifying motivations and aspirations of those people performing the role, offering citations from their answers. This provides a valuable opportunity for the reader to feel empathy for those involved, and offers a more meaningful link to the people undertaking the role. However, as the book is written largely from a strategic point of view, it is likely to deter “shop-floor” nurses, which would be a real shame because it could go some way to improving respect and understanding for these often under-rated support workers.

Who should read it?

This would be a really useful text for all registered nurses and students to gain an enriched understanding of the role delivered by HCAs. Additionally, senior managers seeking to review their workforce would benefit from the strategic insight, and anyone engaged in delivering education for this group of staff.

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